Personal Finance Software

PocketSmith Review

 

I’ve used the premium version of Pocketsmith for 4 years and originally published this Pockesmith Review back in 2015 before any affiliate service was offered. You can trust the review is a genuine one. This post does contain affiliate links.

If you would like to try Pocketsmith, you can sign up from any of the links on this page. From now until the end of June 2018, Pocketsmith have provided a coupon code for readers of WF30 which you can use for 50% off  your first two months when you sign up to their premium plan. To use the coupon code please follow these steps:

1 – Simply click here

2 – Set up a free account

From within your account go to Settings > Subscription and Upgrade > Enter Coupon.

3 – First enter the following code: 50OFFPREMIUM-4LS2

4 – Then enter your payment details

Enjoy!

There’s no doubt keeping track of your personal finances is extremely important to building wealth over the long term. At the very least, understanding your income vs. expenses and ensuring you have a surplus most months is essential.

For those of us that like to thoroughly examine our financial data we often end up with spreadsheets that we can fill in on a regular basis. This is exactly what I did in my early 20’s, ending up with a tarted up excel workbook. For the better part of a year I would sit down every few days and input my purchases. It was a time consuming process – 10 minutes 3x per week is 26 hours per year! The upside was that I became very conscious of where my money went –  just one of the benefits of tracking your net worth! Spending so much time entering expenses started to bother me – and there were times when I didn’t always recall every single transaction I made, so I started looking for an automated solution.

 

Excel Based Budget
My first excel based budget.
Excel savings worksheet
Excel savings worksheet which required dozens of manual monthly entries.

I wanted a platform that met the following criteria:

  1. Tracked expenses
  2. Tracked incomes
  3. Capacity for multiple customised budgets
  4. Quality Reporting
  5. Live account feeds for Australian and international bank accounts (a luxury, but exceptionally useful).

 

One cloud based platform I found that did all this, hassle free was Pocketsmith. I’ve been using Pocketsmith for about 4 years now and absolutely love it.

Screenshot 2015-10-18 17.16.33

Pocketsmith was founded by its New Zealand developers in 2008 and now provides its personal finance software to customers in 196 countries. It recently had a major under the hood refresh and was given a more modern user interface, which is quite pleasing to the eye.

What does Pocketsmith cost?

The cloud based personal finance software comes in 3 iterations:

1. Free which allows you to create 12 budgets and have 2 manually updated accounts and 3 months history

2. Premium ($9.95AUD/month) with unlimited budgets, and history. Linked accounts are updated live.

3. Super ($14.95AUD/month) Unlimited accounts and 30 years financial forecast.

If you’re keen to try Pocketsmith you can sign up here (affiliate link)

Pocketsmith subscription options.
Pocketsmith subscription options.

I opted for the free option for several weeks before requesting a trial of the Premium option, which was kindly given for a whole month at no charge. I then purchased the yearly subscription for the premium version (which comes at a discount compared to monthly payments).

I reckon $7.49 per month is great value. Consider how much time gets saved every single week by automating inputs from multiple accounts. I was spending about 30 minutes a week entering income and purchases into an excel spreadsheet – at an hourly wage of $30, 26 hours a year is equal $780! Pocketsmith helps you track net worth, monitor your accounts, spending categories and budgets. I’ve used it to help me reduce my eating out expense by over $3000 this year and trim the fat in other areas too.

Pocketsmith Features

Fully featured Dashboard

The Dashboard provides an attractive graphical overview of net worth (green area graph) and forecast (blue area graph) as well as tabled account values, recent transactions and a doughnut chart of expenses (date ranges are customisable). The Dashboard also provides warnings about user selected budgets that are close to being exceeded and the duration before the budget resets (these can be modified by the user).

I use the dashboard every week in three main ways:

  1. Check multiple account balances in one location. I can view my regular bank accounts with two main banks, a High Interest Savings Account with UBank and my credit card accounts with Westpac and AMEX. No more logging in to several bank websites just for checking balances.
  2. Quickly check monthly expenses via the doughnut chart. Stay on track by keeping an eye on your overall expenses for the month.
  3. Stay on top of budgets to ensure I’m not blowing one right out (Grill’d burgers, I’m looking at you!)
Dashboard
Dashboard
Budgeting

The Premium version offers unlimited budgets (Free provides 12). These can be set up as weekly, monthly, yearly or some combination (e.g. every 3 months, or every fortnight). They’re displayed on their own dedicated screen as well as the Dashboard. I budget for the big categories like vacations, air travel, clothing, groceries etc. and for any categories I’ve set a goal to reduce (like entertainment, auto costs or eating out).

Screenshot 2015-10-18 15.08.12

Transaction records

A key feature that led me to Pocketsmith was its support for international accounts and currencies which is essential to non-US users wanting solid personal finance software.

Your transaction history can be viewed for either all or selected accounts. From here you can manually categorise or label transactions, split transactions, add refunds or reimbursements. Pocketsmith offers to automate transaction categorisation, saving you tons of time once you’ve set it up.

The search engine is useful to dig up specific transactions. Search also allows you to quickly set up ‘filters’ and ‘rules’ which can apply to future transactions – for example, you could have every transaction from the merchant “McDonalds” categorised as “Fast Food” or “Eating Out”. This then occurs automatically for new transactions. A common niggle with automated categorisation can be incorrect execution of rules. To be perfectly honest I get about one miss-categorised transaction a month at most. And that’s out close to a hundred transactions and between bank transfers. Usually it’s because I’ve created a new rule containing the same word as an existing rule – easy to fix.

Attachment Inbox

With the attachment feature, you can securely e-mail photos or bills directly to your Pocketsmith account and then assign them to a corresponding transaction. This is a great way to keep your paper and digital records in one place!

Categories

Categories are fully customisable and can incorporate timeframes and spending limits to create budgets. Your categories feature also in the excellent Cashflows statement, where you can view your month by month income and expenses in full detail.

Categories Screenshot 2015-10-18 15.03.08

Live bank feeds 

Live and automatic bank feeds offered by the premium version of Pocketsmith provide for an elegant solution to manual input or uploading your own files. These are useful for those with frequent transactions and multiple accounts. Transaction history is fully provided for and can be arranged by category, store purchase, date or account.

A key feature that led me to Pocketsmith was its support for international accounts and currencies which is essential to non-US users wanting good personal finance software. Another useful feature is that Pocketsmith learns your category behaviour and will start automatically assigning transactions to the correct category. I had very few errors with this feature, and they were simply fixed in a once a week/month over view. For those not using the Live automatic bank feed, transaction history can be uploaded in the form of OFX, QFX or QIF formats (CSV is not currently supported for uploads).

live_bank_feeds-d6fb90ba99b314bc96c3486ed245ed95

Reports and Statements

Although a little basic, the Net Worth statement aggregates all accounts (e.g. savings, transaction etc) and debts (e.g. credit cards) in addition to user inputs for other assets and liabilities. It’s not quite there in terms of elegance and could really use integration with other software (e.g. an online broker for tracking investments) but is a good start.

I use the net worth screen once a month – simply update my personal investment account and superannuation balance and Pocketsmith takes care of the rest.

net_worth-966991bca53311749ab4e8dcfcffda93

The Income & expense statement displays your budgeted and actual expenses vs income for a given period (fully customisable). It’s a simple way to see those categories that are over budget for the period.

Screenshot 2015-10-18 15.07.48

The Cashflow statement is one of my favourite features on Pocketsmith. This is a great feature for those that want to drill down into the details of their income and expense categories. The statement consists of three sections; i) Summary ii) Income Categories and iii) Expense Categories (not shown below). You can easily select which categories are displayed vs hidden via settings. Date ranges are fully customisable so whether you’re interested in the past month, past quarter or past year you can see with ease your income categories, expense categories and the surplus/deficit for each month.

The proof is in the pudding – as they say – prior to using Pocketsmith I had 5 out of the prior 6 moths in deficit. Since opening an account and tracking my expenses I had only 1 monthly deficit for the rest of the year. This in itself suggests the subscription is worth the cost.

Three or 4 years on and I still use the cashflow statement every month. I’ve started using it to look for trends, track mini goals (e.g. reducing an expense) and ensure I’m creating a positive cashflow in as many months as I can. For those like me who are part finance nerd, you can export of data (e.g. Transactions or Cashflows) as a .csv file for further manipulation in software like Excel or Numbers. You can then do further analysis on your spending habits ’till your hearts content! 🙂 🙂 🙂

I use charting features to get an idea of trends etc over the entire year gone by. You can view my yearly updates for 2015, 2016 and 2017!

These are my own Pocketsmith cashflows over the last 12 months
My own Pocketsmith cashflows over the last 12 months in 2015.
Calendar

Calendar lets you quickly forecast upcoming expenses.

Calander Screenshot 2015-10-18 15.05.40

Online Help and Support

During the infrequent times I’ve contact support (with a live feed error or just a question) I’ve found their replies prompt and thorough. Issues were resolved very quickly (live feed error was due to third-party software incorrectly parsing AMEX data). In my experience, the Pocketsmith team take feedback seriously. They have an online community of users who provide ongoing feedback and suggestions for improvements. Users can vote up suggestions to increase their chance of being reviewed or implemented by the developer team.

Security

Pocketsmith uses 128-bit SSL encryption and is ‘read-only’ on automated feeds to increase security. More info on security features here.

Other features

Pocketsmith allows users to import from Mint, integrate with Xero, or share access with another user – whether a family member, friend or financial advisor. e-mail notifications are available and I use these to provide a bi-weekly summary of all accounts.

Hoped for future additions and recent modifications…

Pocketsmith could be improved with a more robust Net Worth platform, for example integration to online brokering accounts or other investment services. For now I’m content to update these investments manually once a month. At the moment, I keep a separate spreadsheet for tracking Stock Portfolio and Superannuation accounts anyway and update the Net Worth field in Pocketsmith once a month.

Overall, Pocketsmith is one of the most complete cloud based personal finance software platforms I’ve used and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a personal finance or budgeting solution with live account feeds with support for international accounts and currencies.

Pocketsmith earns a solid 8.5 out of 10, .

If you’re keen to try Pocketsmith you can sign up here!

Have any questions about Pocketsmith or use it yourself? I’d love to hear from you so please post your comments! 🙂

Pocketsmith

$9.95pm
Pocketsmith
8.5

Overall Rating:

8.5 /10

9 thoughts on “PocketSmith Review

  1. Thanks for the review. I will give them a try. You should ask them to start an affiliate program and get your self a link!

    1. Hi, ICWH, they’re worth while. Until Mint etc. have an support for Aus/NZ, Pocketsmith is a really good alternative. I laughed when I read your suggestion about an affiliate link, not because of the idea (it’s a great idea) but my blog is such a small fry I don’t think it gets enough traffic!

  2. Great review thank you. You hit the nail on the head – the issue with YNAB and other US based platforms is that they do not allow feeds from non US banks. I have been using Pocketbook which is excellent at automating the categorisation of transactions which is the big time saver but is does not have a forecasting function. YNAB I have also used but is it not as simple as Pocketbook and you have to manually categorise from your imported QFX file. The thing I like about what I have been reading about Pocketsmith is the forecasting – looking forward is much more helpful in managing cash flow.

    I will now try Pocketsmith!

    1. Hi Peter, Thanks for the encouraging words. Pocketbook is great too, and Pocketsmith has a similarly good automatic categorisation, I have rarely had to change them once it’s set up. If you have regular expenses the forecasting is an excellent tool, although I should admit to not using it as fully as I could. If you try Pocketsmith, I’m genuinely interested to know what you think.
      WF30

  3. what about tracking things from ‘petty cash’ that’s taken out from an accoutn and ATM? My spreadsheet keeps tracking of them too. Would PocketSmith allow me to create a ‘wallet’ or ‘petty cash’ and manual entry these expenditures?

    1. Hi forksticks, you sure can. In fact I believe Pocketsmith by default comes with a ‘cash’ account which you can record transfers and expenses etc. as desired. I only use about $40 in cash a month anyway so I tend not to use the separate account, instead I set up a expense category in my transaction account as “Cash withdrawals” and all ATM withdrawals are labled that way (I can manually relable them late if desired).

      Thanks for dropping by – WF30

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